Experiential Learning: My Favorite Class at Babson
During my time in Babson’s MBA program, I’ve spoken to several different potential students about my experience here, my advice for their interviews, and what they can expect once they step through those doors. One thing that always comes up, and that I too was curious about before I started, is the experiential learning opportunities in the MBA program.
Babson has a few different offerings, including the required BCAP (Babson Consulting Alliance Program) course in the two-year MBA program, as well as elective MCFE (Management Consulting Field Experience) courses that are open to all MBAs. But my absolute favorite course – and a course that I feel is under-emphasized here in the grad school – was Managing the Consulting Experience (MCE).
MCE is also an elective. You have to apply, interview, and be accepted. You choose the top three projects that interest you, and you get assigned to one of them. As an MBA student, you serve as the ‘project leader,’ and are paired with a team of 4 or 5 undergraduate students. I was lucky…I got a great group! They all knew each other before this course, and even signed up as a team. It was my first time meeting them, but they made it really easy for me to slip right into place and become part of the gang.
The undergraduate students don’t have a formal classroom portion of this course – they report directly to their MBA project leaders. We met as a group once or twice a week for the entire semester, and they spent plenty of time working on the deliverables on their own. The project leaders, however, did have a classroom obligation. We met weekly with our professor, Joseph Weintraub, the career center’s executive-in-residence, George Lee, and the program’s coordinator, Arline MacCormack.
The time we spent in the classroom was dedicated to developing our leadership and coaching skills. We focused all of our energy on managing the expectations of our team members and our clients, and troubleshooting problems that each team was facing.
So here’s why it was my favorite course: I got to work with some amazing undergraduate students that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I had the chance to practice coaching techniques in a low-risk environment. I was able to watch my team grow over the course of the semester, and change their outlook from doing what is asked on a syllabus to doing what is right for the client based off of research and experience. I saw them start to shift from students to professionals. I helped them work on goals outside of their course load, and celebrated with them as they secured internships, won track meets, and prepped themselves for semesters abroad. I was so proud of their maturity, their discipline, and their sheer stamina (with their 14 hour work days and endless commitments)!
And, in the end, they knocked it out of the park. They delivered a stellar presentation to our client and impressed everyone in the room. They helped me develop into a better coach, a stronger project manager, and a more dedicated team member.
I’d like to thank the Undergraduate Experiential Programs Office, our project sponsor Clarkston Consulting, and of course my team for allowing me to have such a rich learning experience.